Whatever your views on any proposed alternatives to the Maze site for the new multi-sports Stadium, with the incentive of Olympic qualifying soccer matches carrot-like on the horizon, you’d be forgiven for imaging that the Sports Minister, the DUPs Edwin Poots, would have the responsibility to decide from any proposals after his recently imposed deadline of 30th June.. except that the First Minister, DUP leader Ian Paisley seems to have already ruled one of the potential proposals out.. and it looks suspiciously like his reasons are due to the vicinity of his own church.Here’s the BBC report again
First Minister Ian Paisley has ruled out plans for a stadium at Belfast’s Ormeau Park, saying it would affect five churches, including his own.
Mr Paisley said it would not be “convenient” to have Sunday School children arriving in buses with a greyhound track outside the door.
He added: “It will not be and I’m told it cannot be under the planning act.”
Belfast City Council is considering a possible stadium, incorporating a greyhound park, at the park.
[How about without the greyhound track? – Ed]
There’s also another important point to raise, as it seems to have disappeared from more recent statements, about the criteria for the stadium proposal.
On the 19th June, while maintaining the Maze plan was the best option available, Sports Minister Edwin Poots was reported as saying
““Since I was appointed, I have said that I am willing to consider alternatives to the Maze/Long Kesh site, provided they meet certain criteria. However, time is very short and if the stadium is to be a reality in time for the 2012 Olympics, then we need to move forward.
A multi-sports stadium must be delivered to meet the 2012 Olympics timetable, it must be supported by the governing bodies of the relevant sports, be economically viable and be consistent with government’s wider objectives of a shared future.”
But when he set out the criteria, in an official statement, which any alternative proposal would have to meet there was a subtle, but telling, difference.
“Any alternative location needs to be delivered in time, to be supported by the Governing Bodies of the three sports, Soccer, Rugby and Gaelic, be economically viable and most importantly, be consistent with the wider Government objectives of a Shared Future.[added emphasis]
“What I am being asked to do is to stop or overturn a decision which was made two years ago to locate the Multi-Sports Stadium at the Maze/Long Kesh. However, I cannot stop a process unless I am given viable alternatives.
“To date none of the alternatives discussed with me have demonstrated that they can satisfy the criteria.”
And how could they, if the “wider Government objectives of a Shared Future” include a multi-sports Stadium at the Maze site? And that is the most important criteria… more important than economic viability?
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